I am currently living in San Francisco, California, just moved up here from Los Angeles about 6 months ago. I am sueing my landlord (in L.A.) who withholds all of my security deposit even though the apartment wasn't trashed, damaged or dirty when we moved out. The apartment was, in my opinion, in a better condition than when we moved in.
The real nightmare began after we filed small claims law suit against him. First, he didn't show up at the first hearing, when court clerk asked me if I have receipt/evidence that the notice was "served", and I told her that I only sent certified mail to the landlord through court clerk and I didn't know I need a return receipt, everybody in the court were laughing hard. Even though I have never been to court and this is my first court experience, I felt really embarrased. The clerk then checked and told me that there's no return receipt, and I need to hire someone or ask police to serve the notice. So, I did that and made sure I have a receipt this time. By the way, when I went home and tracked the certified mail on USPS online, it showed someone at his address did accept the mail.
The second hearing came, my landlord did showed up at the court, he even came up to me before the hearing, smiled and told me he is planning to counter sue for more money, the only words I said were " we'll be in court in about 5 minutes, we'll talk about it then". Then, 2 minutes later, court clerk came up to me and notify me that the defendent (my landlord) had just postponed the hearing to 1 month later citing he wants a real judge (temporary substitute judge was on duty that day).
My ex-landlord knows I have to travel by airplane to the small claims court, I suspect that he's doing this trying to scare me off. The clerk also told me that he can do this as many times as he wants. Each trip costs about $500 for the plane ticket (sec. deposit was $2,500), I don't know how many trips I can afford to take or if it's even worth it to proceed. My ex-landlord is obviously very knowledgable in court procedures, I Googled him online and found that he's VP at a famous bank, it seems he's got lots of resources.
1. What should I do next?
2. What can I do to stop him from playing tricks like these?
3. Can I ask for compensation for the plane tickets?
Your help is greatly appreciated,
Very tired plaintiff